Award-winning network TV reporter Bernard Goldberg first hit pay dirt in the book world with "Bias," his 2001 best-seller exposing how the news we saw was distorted by the liberal bias of the journalists he worked with during his long career with CBS News. Several media books later, Goldberg is back with "A Slobbering Love Affair: The True (And Pathetic) Story of the Torrid Romance Between Barack Obama and the Mainstream Media." The Regnery Publishing book, which goes on sale Monday, indicts mainstream print and electronic journalists not for having liberal biases, which are a given, but for becoming open and unapologetic activists for Obama.
Q: What's your 60-second synopsis of your book?
A: This is not a book about the same old media bias. This time journalists cross a very bright line. This time they stopped being witnesses to history and they were intent on helping to shape history. They moved from media bias to media activism. In my whole life I have never seen the media get on board for one candidate the way they did this time around and -- this is very important -- they did it without even a hint of embarrassment.
It isn't just conservatives that feel this way. Lots of people feel the media was in the tank for Barack Obama. They were because he was young, because he was cool, because he was black and because he was liberal. There's no way in the world we would have seen this kind of slobbering if we would had just inaugurated the first black president who was conservative and Republican.
Q: You're not talking about opinion writers and pundits, you're talking about news coverage?
A: I'm talking about two things. In terms of news coverage, forget about what I say. There are polls conducted by nonpartisan groups that said the media was way, way more positive in its Obama coverage than its McCain coverage. In other words, everybody has seen what I've seen. I'm not the only one. The media who were on Obama's team, they didn't just put a thumb on the scale; this time they sat on the scale.
But we're talking about lots of supposedly hard-news reporters, but even in opinion -- and this is an important point that I'm glad you brought up -- I think opinion has to be relatively intelligent. I mean, Chris Matthews saying he had "a thrill running up his leg" when he heard Barack Obama speak. And Matthews said "You're not an American if you don't cry when you hear Obama speak."
This isn't political commentary. This is a man crush. This is embarrassing. He is by far the most embarrassing commentator on television. I want to make it clear -- commentators are allowed to comment. I get that. But the commentary has to have a semblance of intelligence to it, and Chris Matthews has become the single biggest embarrassment in all of the media in terms of this campaign coverage.
Q: So is he the most egregious example -
A: Let me give you two. Chris Matthews is the most egregious example of media slobbering I have ever seen.... Chris Matthews is an embarrassment of the first order. But I'll tell you something else -- and this is the single most embarrassing sentence I have ever seen in the Washington Post. This is a story on Christmas morning, Page 1, Washington Post, about Barack Obama's exercise regimen. I'm going to read you the line and I don't blame you if you think I am making it up. I swear to God I'm not: "The sun glinted off chiseled pectorals sculpted during four weight-lifting sessions each week and a body toned by regular treadmill runs and basketball games."
Let me tell you something. If there has been a more embarrassing sentence ever published in the Washington Post, please, somebody tell me what it is. You'd read something like this in a romance novel with Fabio on the cover. This is the kind of slobbering I'm talking about. This is not the same old, same old. They jumped the shark this time. They really took sides and they didn't care who knew it. That's different from anything that happened in the past.
Q: You already knew the way the media tilts, so were you just waiting for this to happen or did it shock even you?
Q: That's a very interesting question. It's the latter. I figured it was going to be the same old thing. Of course they were going to root for the Democrat. They always root for the Democrat, the more liberal the better. That I expected. And believe me, I wasn't going to sit down and write a book about that. But the more I looked at it, the more I watched, I said, "I can't actually be seeing what I am seeing. I can't believe I'm reading what I'm reading." What pushed me over the edge in terms of wanting to write a book about it was the incredible lack of concern for what anybody thought. Even Howard Kurtz in today's Washington Post said it's not just conservatives who think the media rolled over for Barack Obama -- and they better change.
Q: Hillary Clinton has to be pretty annoyed at the media.
A: She's the biggest single loser in all of this. If the media had done its job early on, Hillary Clinton would have been the nominee for president of the United States and probably elected president of the United States.
Q: What are you trying to prove and who are you trying to persuade with this book?
A: Because I am a journalist, I want to document things that I think are important. And since the only group mentioned in the Constitution with constitutional protections that is a real business is the press, the media. I think they are worth taking a look at. It's not what I am trying to prove; it's that as a reporter, as a journalist, I like to write about things that I think are important. And I think how the media behaves in a free society is very important. It's not enough to simply have a free press; you have to have a fair press. That's what I am trying to document.
The second part of the question is, "Who am I trying to persuade?" I'm going to be perfectly honest with you. I reach out to liberals in my books. They criticize not liberals but they criticize liberal biases or liberal insanity or liberals going too far, or whatever. I would love for liberals to also read this book, in addition to conservatives, and say, "Hey, he's making a good point." But the fact is, too many liberals, while they acknowledge the bias of the media -- and they do -- they don't care. I can't deal with that. If they are willing to accept corruption because the corruption helped their guy get elected, that's on them, not me.
Q: What you said is absolutely true - I've seen it: even if journalists recognize it, they don't care.
A: They don't care because the press is also liberal like they are. But what they don't understand -- because they haven't even thought about this for a second -- is that the only institution in America that has constitutional protections is the media; but that is for only one reason - to keep an eye on a very powerful government. Well, if nobody trusts the media anymore - and one poll indicated that 90 percent of Republicans thought that the press wanted Obama to win and 62 percent of Democrats and independents thought the very same thing - what's going to happen when they sound a real alarm for a real crisis? ... That's the danger that these idiots put us into this time around, with what went way beyond bias and was actually media activism.... We're not going to listen to them when they bark the next time. They're the watchdogs? When the watchdogs bark, nobody's going to be paying attention.
Q: Which media institution -- print or electronic -- should be most ashamed of its coverage?
A: Oh that's easy. Thank you. That's a softball. MSNBC. Not even close.
Q: And we all know where Chris Matthews works, right?
A: (Laughs) That's right. By the way, I was asked by Bill O'Reilly a week ago, "Do you think it's a mental disease or do you think it's business?" - He was actually talking about the general Bush-hating. I immediately said "It's a mental disorder, because don't underestimate the power of insanity. 'Bush-derangement syndrome' is for real." But in the case of MSNBC, it's also business. They have made a conscious business decision to corrupt an entire news organization in order to jump on a liberal bandwagon. That's a journalistic sin. That's not just the old bias. That's a kind of corruption that runs very deep and is hurting the NBC news brand.
Q: A defender of MSNBC might say, "Well, they are just trying to be the liberal version of Fox News."
A: I have heard that, but it's not true and I'll tell you why. If you turn on Fox - and I recommend this to my liberal friends - pick a day in the future - next Sunday, it doesn't matter - and listen as long as you can. You will hear liberal opinion throughout the day. They have liberals and conservatives on all day long. Even the most conservative show on Fox, Sean Hannity's show, has liberals on all the time. Listen to Keith Olbermann, and you will never hear a conservative voice - ever. So MSNBC is trying to be a magnet for the Bush-hating left, and in a very, very, very small way it is doing that. But it doesn't even pretend to present a balanced view. Its opinion shows don't have to, I grant you that. But Fox's opinion shows do; MSNBC's don't.
Q: Not counting Fox, were there any honorable exceptions among what we call the liberal mainstream media that did not swoon over Obama?
A: I'll give you a couple from MSNBC, interestingly, to show that I am trying to be fair. Chuck Todd -- the political director for NBC who was on MSNBC every day during the campaign? I thought he was fair. I thought he was reasonable. The morning show on MSNBC -- "Morning Joe"? There are more liberals on it than conservatives, that's for sure. Most of the people who were on there during the campaign wanted Barack Obama to win, but Joe Scarborough injects a little diversity of opinion.
Q: Pat Buchanan was always there, too.
A: Buchanan is one of those conservatives who hate Republicans, in my view. He's a safe Republican. He's been rejected by the voters three times. He's no fan of Republicans. He's safe. I can name a whole bunch of conservatives that would make MSNBC much more interesting, but I'm not in the habit of wasting my breath.
Q: Have you seen any improvement in the coverage of Obama since you finished your book?
A: Absolutely not. If anything, the slobbering has continued. The question when I finished writing my book was, "Will the slobbering continue?" I thought it would. It has. And the best example of the worst kind of slobbering is that line in The Washington Post that said "The sun glinted off chiseled pectorals ... ." And this was after he got elected. So the slobbering continues. And by the way, I don't see an end in sight.
Q: Who can we trust to provide us with fair and balanced reporting on the Obama era before us?
A: I know everyone has jobs, everyone is busy. But I think the best thing you could do is read as many sources as you can. If you are going to read a liberal newspaper like the New York Times, check out the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal. If you are going to watch MSNBC, please, do yourself a favor - watch Fox. And not because Fox is conservative while MSNBC is liberal. But while Fox has a conservative tilt, it presents both points of view all day long. So I would suggest that you watch or read as much as you can and don't get stuck in a niche where you are only reading one thing with one point of view because then you'll never know what's going on in the world.